I think that shows there is a problem with blogging that goes beyond just the medium. Consider that blogging is a decentralised ecosystem, so you have no central place for discovery outside of Google specifically and search generally. Being on the top of Google is an attractive proposition because it means many eyeballs and lots of ad revenue. Therefore it is natural that many new blogs exist to game the search engine, hence the term "blogspam".
Some of the same incentives exist with large social media sites as well, but on Twitter and the like if you mute/block enough big people and follow only those you care about, your feed will eventually become clean enough to look at every day. So I think it is much more important to solve the discovery problem with blogs if you want them to get more traction.
If you want to read about barbeque, you need to start with a technical question about barbeque; if you want to read about Greek history, you need a question about that.
Eventually you will find somebody knowledgeable who is writing about that subject. They will in turn link to others, or comment on others, and so forth.
Discussion groups and forums and such are useful.
I'm sure they exist, but they are really hard to find.
Or don't trust Facebook to just change the way 'privacy' works
(Never mind the overlays which take up about a third of the viewport height and beg you to login / sign-up - Twitter have started doing this recently)
Discoverability is deliberately hampered by the lack of pagination and reliance on infinite scrolling.
To solve this problem I am building https://linklonk.com that cultivates trust as you rate content. When you upvote a link you connect stronger to the feed that posted it (which could be a blog's feed) and to other users that upvoted this link before you. When you downvote - your connections to those who upvoted become weaker.
The strength of your connections to other feeds and users represents how useful their content recommendations have been to you in the past and they could be used as a measure of how likely their future recommendations will be worth your time (ie, trust that they won't waste your time).
The content is ranked according to the connection weights - so you get information from the sources that have shown to be content curators for you.
I did a Show HN recently for this project that has more details: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28405643
 - like my comment here tries to draw your attention to my hobby project.
> To solve this problem I am building https://linklonk.com that cultivates trust as you rate content. When you upvote a link you connect stronger to the feed that posted it (which could be a blog's feed) and to other users that upvoted this link before you. When you downvote - your connections to those who upvoted become weaker.
> The strength of your connections to other feeds and users represents how useful their content recommendations have been to you in the past and they could be used as a measure of how likely their future recommendations will be worth your time (ie, trust that they won't waste your time).
> The content is ranked according to the connection weights - so you get information from the sources that have shown to be content curators for you.
> I did a Show HN recently for this project that has more details: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28405643
>  - like my comment here tries to draw your attention to my hobby project.
I find this so interesting. OP complains about people constantly trying to sell him something which is why he was turned off of blogs. And what happens? Someone tries to sell him something for his problem of too much selling.
Ah. What a world. Solution to too much selling is more selling.
This isn't somebody trying to sell something. It's somebody trying to help.
In that way, you could have curated content. Like if I find someone that has really similar interests to me I could import their weights and see the web via their prioritisation. Similarly, (countering a problem I always have with google search bubbles) I could explain to my friend how to navigate to a site I found via search if they import my weights.
Edit: being able to manually modify my own weights would probably be helpful as well to decay sell outs.
When you want to introduce someone to LinkLonk you could share with them your personal url.
As for decaying sellouts, wouldn't downvoting the content they upvoted do what you want?
By the way, every time someone you are connected to upvotes something, your connection to them becomes slightly weaker. So if you simply ignore recommendations from sources with a lower signal-to-noise ratio (or high volume) - their recommendations will eventually fade away from the "For you" page.
Or would you change something else?
I don't know if I can get rid of the bottom part with the buttons since this is where the collection selector is - where you pick what collection the item you like should go to.
Your intention is noble, but this is still based on network effects and a positive feedback loop. I doubt you can beat the social medias in their own game.
To make it worthwhile for the users before the project reaches that point, I am trying to make LinkLonk a better tool that helps you keep track of the content you liked (kind of a bookmarking service) and helps you follow RSS feeds in (kind of a feed reader).
If you have other ideas of how to make it more useful before we have enough users - let me know.
I have an idea; maybe you can enable people to publish a list of links that are curated by themselves, in the form of a RSS feed. This way your user can have a sense of ownership.
What you are suggesting is similar to another idea I had (https://linklonk.com/item/9146000221282140160):
"An option to generate a publicly visible url for any of your collections. This could help you share your collection of liked items with other people. And it could help LinkLonk get new users."
Adding an RSS feed for these publicly accessible collections would be a natural extension.
RSS would be the next step.
The discovery problem should be solved on page and spread that way, to remain decentralised and free from the all the centralised incentives that lead to clickbait. You almost have to punish hosts that appear anywhere centralized lest they get a taste for clickblood.
I didn't quite get what are the centralized incentives that lead to clickbait. Is it a comment about LinkLonk or centralized systems in general?
Centralization and decentralization have trade-offs. Right now the downvotes on LinkLonk are private. The upvotes are semi-public, but not available in raw form. If you wanted to implement the LinkLonk's algorithm in a decentralized manner then you would need all hosts to make the upvote and downvote data available to all other participants. Maybe homomorphic encryption can solve this problem.
My goal is to build a proof of concept in my spare time and the centralized approach seems to be the right option in my situation.
In the olden times blogs earned trust by cultivating a reputation. The reputation was earned by having an audience that trusted them and recommended them. Cross-linking content to other blogs, guest blogging, being included on a blogger's 'blogroll,' etc. were all ways they expanded their audience.
It was slower and had much less reach, but it also focused more on "building an audience" rather than
"driving traffic." We, fundamentally, don't trust content, so mechanisms that operate on validating atomized bits of content are going to fall flat. We trust people and institutions. If you want to build trust it has to work on the agents producing the content rather than the content itself. Segmenting content up into atomized bits is what creates the erosion of trust in the first place. It's something timeline driven social media feeds do specifically because it makes it difficult to parse genuine buzz from advertising, which makes the ads more effective. But that's the opposite of trustworthiness.
LinkLonk's algorithm works that way. It builds trust in sources of information (including users who rate content). And it does not and will not try to understand the individual pieces of content.
Unlike the social media feeds that are powered by black box neural networks, LinkLonk's algorithm is transparent. You know how your interactions with it will be interpreted. I hope that this transparency will help build trust in the system and in the sources of information you are connecting to.
Yes, bad actors will try to game any system to gain the attention that they don't deserve. I'm not claiming that LinkLonk is game-proof, but I think it has better feedback loops and incentives than other systems such as popularity based ranking (please don't take it as a challenge).
I have no idea about "too personal" mean, but the only reason you would consider RSS "outside of the flow" is due to the concerted effort by Google, Twitter, Facebook and Apple to reduce support. Even Mozilla(!) has been involved in removing support.
RSS is a perfectly good, tested and usable mechanism. Coming up with yet another syndication mechanism would be a huge waste of time and effort, most likely resulting in insignificance.
I think blogs started dieing when they optimized for maximizing their audience instead of being locations where people write about stuff that interests them without an expectation of "making it".
My way around that is to pay. I find paid newsletters/blogs tend to evade SEO crap, for good reason: no one actually likes writing or reading that shit. Also, usually by forgoing the SEO crap they can focus on niche topics and content because they focus on retaining subscriptions.
The subscription also allows the writers to be more human for lack of a better description. They actually use their voice when writing instead of the generic SEO salesman pep, and they feel more comfortable with offering their real opinions and views.
When they wrote for fun, not profit, the writings came out whenever they had something interesting enough to share. Now that it’s for-profit, the content is forced to come out faster and more frequently with posts that feel unnecessarily long to justify the cost. One author I previously enjoyed for well-researched topics that debunked popular opinions has been firing off un-researched posts with claims that can be debunked in 30 seconds of Googling.
The topics feel like they’re being chosen to produce the most interesting teaser (to convince non-subscribers to subscribe) or SEO juice. It feels like the clickbait factor went way up overnight.
Much of the magic of the past blogging era was that people were writing because they wanted to, not because they were fishing for clicks or subscriptions or pandering to future employers with every word. The move to paid takes some of that away.
What was once a "Ingredients:" .... "Instructions:" ... "Tip: goes well with sour cream", is now a whole story, how the author woke up one day, when the were 7, and noticed they peed their bed, and then their mother came to check on them, and started cleaning the pee, and the dog was barking, and the dog also pooped that day, and there was wheel of fortune on tv, and a friend came over for a lunch, but they ordered pizza for lunch, and then there was a rerun of mission impossible on tv, and then daddy had a beer or five, and mommy made sandwiches, and those sanwiches remind the author of this chicken tikka masala recipe, that was converted to a non-spicy vegan variant.
- what happened to AM radio as FM, satellite, and podcasting came to dominate the American driving experience
- what happened to landline telephone as point-to-point communication became dominated by cellphones, smartphones, and increasingly non-phone-voice-network audio and videoconferencing technologies
I wouldn't be surprised if blogs suffer the same problem in the era of microblogging and centralized microblogging services.
What I witness was that innovation stopped. For instance landlines could have been upgraded to support text messaging (just as they use a modem to send caller ID they could use a modem to send and receive texts.) Cordless phones, answering machines and such could have all gotten better but they didn't.
Most irksome, landlines don't support deliverability features such as STIR/SHAKEN so if you live in a place where cell phones don't work you might have trouble getting people to pick up when you ring them.
That's different from AM radio which, driving across upstate NY, I came to the impression that the only program you could expect to get reliably was the Rush Limbaugh show. If you were lucky around sunset you might catch a black power show from Philadelphia...
The majority of incoming calls on landlines now are people trying to scam the callee. [https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/almost-half-your-phone-ca...]. And the majority of AM radio content now is low-audience long-tail content (or mass-commodified syndicated content, like Rush Limbaugh) that is a medium for pushing low-quality bulk advertising for questionable products.
To expand upon the hypothesis (and this is half-baked and incomplete, so take it with several grains of salt): as technology evolves, people move to more comfortable / more convenient technology. AM is not comfortable or convenient; it's interfered with by too many EM flux sources in the modern world. Landline is not comfortable or convenient for the reasons you noted relative to modern alternatives.
The people who do not move off these technologies are various flavors of captive audiences: people who can't buy FM radios or don't want to adopt new stations / find content in new locations, people who can't use a cellphone, etc. As mainstream content creation leaves these channels, the vacuum is taken over by hucksters trying to take advantage of these captive audiences. The incentives to do so are lack of alternative content and a "softer" target audience (easier to fool, especially since these technologies were once mainstream and trusted so many of their users still believe they are, even after the hucksters have taken them over). I have relatives who still believe "They wouldn't call me if they didn't have business with me; how would they know my number?" And I still have relatives who believe AM news radio is news.
I have muted and blocked accounts on Twitter as well because of that: people clearly never having touched real data talking about ML projects, recommending libraries to manage lifecycle, etc. All that "audiencing" doesn't suit me, especially when it's clearly BS with no value, not even an entertainment value.
However there is no shortage of useless "app redesign" case studies from complete amateurs. And it's always the same ones too: Starbucks, Netflix, Snapchat, Instagram and Spotify.
How about a public health website? Or a university application system? Or something "boring" that's much more realistic for a case study than a billion dollar corp's app?
This cracked me up good lol. Btw, another big problem is people writing "blogs" as if they were experts without having expertise e.g. machine learning medium articles making wild unsubstantiated. It's so misleading, especially because ML is already not particularly rigorous due to black box models.
With blogs it used to be about the RSS feed, which had one job: to nudge users when new content is available. But ultimately users (or news aggregators) had control over what the algorithm does.
The problem with blogs as pointed out is content discovery. How can content be discoverable without commercial interests? Social media platforms make content discovery simple and effective. On top of that, the barrier to entry is low—a two or three step on boarding process which is free (as in beer) to-boot.
Anyone know of good content-discovery platforms?
Podcasts are interesting because multiple platforms support them so they exist somewhat in the borderland. Might be an interesting case study being podcast discover ability vs blogs vs social media.
All that being said, I think we simply have to go beyond the first page of search engine results to find the good stuff. Not finding stuff is a form of laziness when we are used to getting a quick info-fix on Wikipedia. But standardized P2P protocols might be nice too—good incentive for a crypto currency?
Blogging just for the sake of blogging is what caused their decline in the first place. If the blogpost can’t be easily understood within first few lines, it’s a wasted opportunity. The a reason Morgan House, Derek Sivers are still relevant.
A lot of people rightfully mention that we lack a proper micropayments system for the web and while that’s true, I don’t think it’s the only problem. A lot of people’s careers and companies are built on this parasitic model where they don’t actually provide any tangible value and only profit off leftover scraps, which wouldn’t be sustainable in a completely paid-for model because the end-user doesn’t actually get any value out of it and thus would never willingly pay money for this “service”.
I have a theory that 99% of blog posts could fit in a tweet's worth of text or a short thread. Most things that need more length probably don't need SEO-friendly length (500+ words) and are better bundled up in a traditional newsletter. And the stuff that does need that length can just be the main part of the newsletter.
 https://twitter.com/ViewfinderFox / https://newsletter.viewfinderfox.com/
However — I do wonder about this hypothetical: my blog (for whatever reason) blows up. Would I start to feel pressure to deliver content that starts trending towards "grind culture"? Or would I still be able to blog _for me_? I'm sure this is what some other content creators have faced before, especially in the YouTube community. If anybody has had this experience, I'd be curious to hear what you did.
The grind culture thing comes from people trying to make money off of their blogs. So, don't do it for the money :)
If you get to a point where your hosting provider comes knocking because you're generating too much traffic, you'll have a good inflection point to determine if there's some way to get the blog to pay for its own hosting without you having to change your approach (tip services are cool for this).
I've seen this a few times in very non-technical domains, eg Fishing hardware and ceramic glazing.
https://www.alanhawk.com/reviews/reviews.html has frequently had content stolen and republished on seo gamed listicle sites or used verbatim in youtube videos.
The fact is nobody is going to read your blog post about why you are starting a blog, so you are basically just writing it for yourself. Which is fine - but you need to be aware that if you are writing for yourself there is basically a 0% chance your blog will ever get any amount of traffic.
So keep writing for yourself and leave it at that but don't stress about problems you aren't going to have and calling yourself a content creator
The content marketing / grind thing - as far as I can tell, those people are born (decanted?) that way. It's a whole other value system.
I really wonder, is the money from ads good enough that publishing content like this profitable, even with all the blogspam competition?
Hence the proliferation of 'splogs' or Spam-Blogs. Also in terms of social media, most people who experience a viral blogpost that spreads like wildfire throughout the net, invariably try to recreate that past success. It's the sole motivation of clickbait and sensationalist articles. More eyeballs, more AD revenue and also fake Internet Points in general to be had.
SEO content farming is really destroying the web.
> I've come to dread the internet and social media because so many of is written by grind culture freaks who only write faux-insightful SEO'd content as a way to build an audience to sell snake oil.
It's the nature of the attention economy and ubiquitous ad tech.
The author already wrote about blogs that are trying to get views with various tactics vs old proper blogs that were just people rambling about their quirky interests or bad day.
Sure, you can do that. It will even work for that. But the tool has many, many more uses than that.
The blogs are in a race to the bottom in terms of quality because there is huge incentive to write for long-tail SEO rather than humans.
This is a lot closer to tragedy of the commons.
What is the common resource that you think is being used up?
If it's the brainpower of the people writing SEO blogs, it doesn't prevent other people using their own brains.
If you think they are polluting the infosphere with crap, I can't really argue with that, but I can point out that it's generally ignorable and self-curing: when you don't make money at it, you stop.
So if anything, it resembles a late-stage ponzi where people aren't paying in much but are getting nothing back.
Not in the "I had kids so my blog went dark for a few years" sense, but in the sense of "ooh twitter was invented and now I just emit a halfassed one-sentence brainfart or 5-second tiktok cellphone video and get way more dopamine hits".
I've been reading blogs and perusing my self-curated NetNewsWire RSS feeds for 20+ years, and blogs never went away, RSS never died, Google Reader getting googled didn't really matter, etc.
And there are probably technically more blogs now than ever before.
But still, the blog kinda died, in the sense that it would be a lot more surprising to learn your friend's 80-year-old grandma has a blog today than it would have been in 2011.
It went from an increasingly-mainstream thing to a decreasingly-mainstream thing.
1 - owning your blog is too big of a barrier of entry, there is a need for a platform: look at the success at medium for tech writers, despite that we hate it.
2 - we need the return of the domain name based blog. This helps with independence, censorship, and the like. You can always move from the platform, and the platform can claim they can't censor you since it's your domain, so DMCA should be sent to you directly.
3 - this platform should do blog + microblog. You don't always have something long to say, announcement, though and quick tips are very well suited to tweets. But only this format leads to quality deficiency. Being able to write a big article easily is equally important.
4 - forwarding all posts to your social networks is essential. Yes, your blog should be the original source (so you get ref, credit, independence and not the duplicate content ban from google). But the discovery problem cannot be solved easily, and those networks already exist.
EDIT: unrelated, but I love phone calls. I mean, I hate doing them, but I love having the ability to do them. It's a universal reliable tech, it works in the country side, it works when the wifi is down, it works well in the car, and I don't have to have the app du jour installed or insist that the other party does.
I've been talking to businesses for years about this same thing. Using a blog as a way to broadcast to social media but keep the blog/site as the main source of information for your audience.
And it never works because it is far too simple to just use social media directly and even if you don't, your audience still comments on social media and so your discussion remains there.
Discussion should remain on social media. This avoids the problems of moderation and spam that plagued blogs.
> it is far too simple to just use social media directly
Yes to succeed the blog platform should be super easy to setup and to link.
There are benefits that can then attract people:
- if you have several social accounts, on the same or different platforms, then having a centralized way of publishing on all of them is a nice perk
- social media platform impose a lot of rules, but on your blog, you can do whatever you want. So for problematic content, you can tease on social networks, and bring people on your blog for the real uncensored thing.
- the source of truth that the blog would be is a fine touch in this era of fake news
- you can add paid sections to the blog and make money directly with your biggest fans
What I was trying to say is that I think that ultimately social media will eat your traffic and blog. I think that the peril of using social media to promote your own content is that you will ultimately depend on social media.
I think that the best route to take is to find a way to promote your content without it.
At least if you have are on several platform, there are multiple entre points for your content. And your blog would allow you to offer things that the platform don't, like code snippets, easy media download, or something more innovative.
Not if it's on a platform - see part 2 of GP's ramblings.
After all, I'm responsible for my vps content, not my hosting. What's the difference ?
I've made 4 phone calls this year: to a buddy, to my wife, to an old friend, and to my fax/voicemail provider (JConnect) which decided to terminate voicemail service on the phone number I've used since the 1990s. (So I may be part of the problem I am describing — that number didn't ring any device, it only accepted voice messages and faxes, which it forwarded to me via email.)
Of those 4 phone 2021 phone calls:
1.) My buddy no longer has voicemail on his phone, and a recording just told me he was not available and to try again later. (Head kinda exploded.)
2.) My wife also no longer has voicemail! How tf did that happen? No idea but it was 2 months after the above call so I was less surprised.
3.) My old friend is old-school (hence the phone call), and still does have voicemail — but it was full. I assume because he never checks it.
4.) JConnect support's touch-tone B.S. support system did disconnect me a couple of times, requiring that I call them back... but it did eventually connect me to a support rep who helped me cancel my account. But: only because they are the kind of asshole company that engages in the common-but-should-be-illegal practice of letting you sign up on the web but only cancel by phone, as a method of retaining "customers" who no longer want their product.
So n=1 sample, might not be typical, etc. but I suspect the phone is getting less universal and less reliable over time.
[EDIT] Except for work. My work email is still sorta useful. But in part that's because it's much newer. It's also getting more and more junked up with garbage, without active management and rule-setting.
Twitter is getting more and more universal, but reliable does not apply.
I guess no, we are living through a breaking of communications.
I certainly do. I have no intention of EVER checking my voicemail, so why would I want to leave callers with a false impression that their message will be heard?
I never answer those on the first go - only if they left a voicemail or a text message...
I feel like medium doesn't even care about tech writers -- don't people still have to host github gists for code snippets? The biggest middle finger to tech bloggers, and yet they keep flocking to the platform.
Micro.blog does this!
To meet some arbitrary SEO goal like, longer articles do better we have people filling in the top 1/3 with unneeded filler. Then we have companies trying to plug their product in a "10 best tools for X" article. Even if their product is crap for that feature, along with the content mills, the quality has dropped.
Google downloaded all that curation effort and then claimed we didn't have to do it anymore, and that we just need to "be indexed", but that opens the door for spammers and scammers, and there's no fix for it. Without curation, blogs are no better than strangers on a street corner.
I think the only way to restore the health of the blog ecosystem is to go back to webrings, except with an RSS accumulator added^, so that we can follow everyone in a webring and report abuse to the webring curators.
^ OPML subscriptions would be a workable model, except that many feed readers only support "import OPML one-time", not "poll and refresh".
EDIT: It isn't sufficient to implement RSS or OPML support. The missing piece is webrings that curate their membership lists, with a human sanity limit of 25 or 50 sites per webring. That was a real limit back in the day, but it's still worth keeping to keep humans honest. You can't replace this effort with technology, but you can support it. We just choose not to, because search is lazy and somewhat effective, and so blogs suffer.
Most blog-entries were never much more than that anyway, especially since the free blog-services started appearing and setting up a blog was effortless. There is a reason why Twitter were named micro-blogging-service in the beginning. And the other side was blogging being a primitive form of social network, till better social networks appeared. So it made sense for people who were more interested in the social aspect to moved to the optimized services.
> I've been reading blogs and perusing my self-curated NetNewsWire RSS feeds for 20+ years, and blogs never went away, RSS never died, Google Reader getting googled didn't really matter, etc.
In both cases, the hype died down, and was replaced by other hypes. The remaining people use them now for the dedicated reasons where both can shine their best. But the danger remains that loosing support will long term lead to them dying for real. In case of RSS it's already happening slowly. Though blogs are more resistant to this, as your blogging does not depend much on external support, as long as you do not care about money or reader-stats.
or worse, a 10/ sequential message "magnum tweetus"
(a) Basically just a bunch of glorified retweets, but
(b) Free of the moronic 280-character limit, and
(c) Immune to Twitter's moronic "jail" algorithm (all I have to do is delete the IFTTT tweet, not my "blog post")
And I think that's fine. And, yes, I do have opinions on the moronicity of Twitter, how did you know?
Of course, it's not the same as a blog. I think the length "requirement" of a blog made it so only people with the time, dedication and skills (or lack of self-awareness) would keep them going, so if you were reading an established blog a bit of selection bias was at play. On Twitter you can tweet garbage day in day out and still be on the platform for years. Heck, you'd probably gain a significant following.
I might be coming off as a Twitter fan or something but just to be clear: the site is cancer. It's impossible to stay on for longer than a year and not have your brain melt off by how it works, and they're becoming more and more closed and restrictive by the day. It's a shame because there's clearly something about the site that interests a mass audience, but I wish there was a service that was like Twitter but better. I know Mastodon exists but outside specific niche audiences it's never gained traction, but I hope it does take off eventually.
Maybe the same applies to Facebook/Instagram/Other major social media provider as well, but I don't have any experience with platforms outside Twitter and Reddit so I couldn't say.
Edit to expand on something: I mentioned that Twitter is interesting to mass audiences, and that's actually more important than you'd think. Speaking personally, before I went on twitter, I don't think I'd ever consistently read content posted by women. It's a natural result of being in a male-dominated industry and following male-dominated interests. On Twitter, though, because there were so many people of all walks of life I quickly followed a lot of interesting women who posted great content: women who were activists, historians, academics, homemakers and so on. That really was why I stuck around for so long on Twitter despite how awful the site is, and why I think any serious contender has to appeal to the normies, so to speak.
Best thing about blogs at the beginning was that they were not mainstream. They were specialized and interesting.
When they were mainstream in the internet only short period between internet becoming mainstream and social networks and platforms gaining popularity.
Today blogs are back in the golden age of not being mainstream. It's easier to find quality content by following them and their links to other blogs.
I don't know if bloggers turned to Twitter, TikTok, and similar goldfish attention span media. (Maybe. I don't have data.)
I think it is more likely that high-quality blog posts drown in the sea of tweets. More people do the latter, and the cost of doing a single one is orders of magnitude lower than writing even an average-quality blog post.
I realize I am being utopian, but providing a facility like Medium that uses open standards, allows bloggers to blog and doesn't skim profits should be a public service.
The platform effect means there’s just less quality content and it’s more difficult to surface.
I think what has changed in the last two decades or so is that a lot of new users have come on the Internet and this new generation of users spend most of their time in walled gardens thereby making the bloggers look like a small minority.
Yes, inferior products prevail from time to time, especially when those negative externalities you mention help consolidate a dominant position.
But social networks do not charge money. People are free to open as many blogs as they want. If they didn't when they were raging in the early 2000s there must a reason.
Reality is complex, especially human motivations. But to argue that blogs are a superior for the mainstream public to share themselves to an audience is a bit intellectually unfair.
Exhibit A being the QWERTY keyboard most of us are typing on right now.
Most people didn't blog in order to produce great art or advance human knowledge. Those who did, they tend to still blog.
But most regular Joe bloggers just wanted to share ideas or experiences with other people, connect with them, and hear _their_ ideas and experiences. Writing a 500-word blog post was just the means to start a chat in the comments section. For them, Facebook or Twitter do it better.
I remember when Tumblr started (it didn't have a specific culture yet). Some of my blogging friends opened a Tumblr just to share links and pictures, and kept to WordPress for long-form posts. Eventually, they quickly started spending more times in link exchanging and commenting on Tumblr than on WP.
I used to discover blogs via the Yahoo Directory, blog rolls (where we mention others' blogs as external links to follow up), Live Journal's listing, and cross-referencing of blog posts. Google search used to surface blog posts too.
Now it's all on Medium - where I don't grudge those who want reliable hosting+discoverability and want to get paid for content, and where Medium charges for this. But I dislike that the content is "locked up" at Medium. I don't quite know how to explain this dislike, and I welcome any points of view that might help make this dislike go away.
danluu.com, plover.com, ciechanow.ski, essays by pg and many others have very high quality writing and are insightful.
I don't accept there is a shortage of blogs.
People find me through those posts and end up sticky around for the more personal/rambly stuff.
(I just emailed the site about this.)
HN history goes as far as 4 years ago claiming it's "new": https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15394126.
It's given me great joy just publishing my unfiltered thoughts on the internet straight from my pen, which sounds similar to the "unfocused blogs" the author was talking about.
Perhaps in this highly edited, Instagram world we now live in - the raw, unedited nature of a blog is a bit more scary. I still love them though.
Here's my blog if you're interested: https://daily.tinyprojects.dev/
Here are some others:
I think we've gotten curiously bad at linking to other websites in the last 20 years. It's really bad for discoverability. I don't know why it is, it's like everyone goes "oh, i've got a precious visitor at last, better not link anywhere so they'll stick around forever!"
I think if my website contains interesting links, it makes people more likely to come back later, because they associate it with good feelings of discovery, and not bad feelings of being trapped.
I've been at it for over 6 years and there's around 350 posts. It's a mixture of written blog posts and YouTube videos. The general focus is on building and deploying web applications as well as dev environment tweaks. Basically everything I encounter as a developer.
Some blogs I follow via RSS (using the awesome NetNewsWire app):
Here's some lists of blogs (mostly programming oriented):
Love the look of paper website as well, right now I use bearblog but I would like to use paper a bit more
Most of the people that would read non-technical blogs have changed their browsing habits to mostly consume content on Facebook. Most commercial content has moved to social media. Forums have disappeared for the most part. My hobby, and I suspect a lot of hobbies, have moved on to social media. As an example, the local tabletop gaming community here at one point had four distinct forums and a large number of hobby blogs. All of that is now on Facebook.
I think you can see the impact of that on the decline in Blogger support and Wordpress' move to include more tools and support for 'professional' bloggers. Wordpress is more and more a platform for those SEO huxsters.
Blogs aren't going to come back to the internet until the audience for them comes back and that won't happen until social media, especially Facebook, is no longer capturing that audience.
I've recently noticed more people writing on LinkedIn (which might just be my impression and not true) and I wonder if that's part of the reason?
We used them in college, but I guess folks would need shell accounts on unix systems to do that today?
I miss lightweight internet stuff. Maybe gemini will bring some of that back?
Of course it’s possible to blog over HTTP. (I mirror my gemlog to my website.) But it’s so much more enjoyable to write and browse in an ecosystem that’s designed for it.
These were definitely proto-blogs.
None of your business. Go away.
You have mail.
Sometime around 2012 or 2013, the amount of time the average person spent on social media got high enough that it became their default time sink. People simply stopped interacting with personal blogs in the way they used to.
Writing blog posts every couple of days was fun when every new post would get a few comments from regular readers. But quite rapidly those comments simply stopped, and instead almost every comment was blog spam.
In my opinion, it had nothing to do with the blogging platforms, and everything to do with the rise of social media.
When Google Adsense was a thing and fun, I had it running on my site for quite a long time. There was a time when I supported my Startup with the income from my blog. A few of my years in Mumbai was just living off of the income from my blog.
20+ years now, I just have my blog as a record and archive for all the fun, stupid, silly, and nonsense that I wrote. Now, I write for myself and perhaps for my kids to browse around in future and, may, laugh. I have no comments, no analytics, nothing at all now.
I can understand the new generations loathing the likes of Blogs, Emails. However, I look at them as a digital record of my life.
For instance, I stumble on people online and then I reply back to the email thread we had in 2005. How nice is that?
The old Internet, the way it used to be, will survive in its niche, but we can't kid ourselves that 99% of people want to read technical blogs.
And even so, while I'm in that 1%, I find blogs overly simplistic, too focused on self-help, DIY, end your procrastination, here's why my chosen tool/kit/library is the best -- these are profoundly uninteresting. Every time a Paul Graham post rockets to the top of HN, I roll my eyes. Out of all the writing and profundity of the history of civilization, this is what we worship?
As the internet grew, blogging became a popular format to write long form and publish it. There was a golden window where search was still new and hadn't yet been gamified, and before the platforms providing what veidr here called quick dopamine hits.
Seeing blogging expand and at the same time be instantly searchable was great... but didn't last.
Eventually a whole group of users wanted the benefits of exposure of their thoughts & content, without the hassle of writing long form. And I would say, for those users, social media is indeed the perfect medium. Those who do write in long form can still do so, it's just that discoverability has somewhat taken a step back.
I contend that it's not a huge deal, as a long form fosters a more thoughtful pace instead of rewarding instant gratification. Links between blogs do help with discoverability, it just that it's an organic process that takes time. Of course, the upside is once a blog is discovered, one can easily go back and read the previous articles.
There's a couple of problems with blogs.
- Sometimes I only want to subscribe to an author's certain topics
- There's still no good RSS reader; I use feedly, but its load-time puts me off it big time (I've tried plenty of others)
- The tendency to sign up for walled garden platforms rather than platforms, or simply use normal websites, that federate well
- The practical death of web rings for discoverability
I've been thinking about the last point more: I don't really want to submit to a search engine's algorithm; I want someone's curated recommendations.
Once I've have those curated recommendations I want something that lets me aggregate and interact.
If you want a fast, in browser RSS reader I don't think anything can beat mine in load time: https://airss.roastidio.us
I recently have a show HN:
I blog. Here's a view from the other side:
It's nigh impossible to make money blogging. People hate every means that exists to monetize it.
People hate ads. People hate SEO content with affiliate links. People hate content paid for via a content mill. Etc.
If you do something original, they accuse you of being a shill or making things up etc and few people leave tips or kick in a few bucks via Patreon.
You want to see more blog writing from original voices?
Be willing to tip or support Patreon if they are looking to monetize it. Good writing takes time and practice and if you aren't willing to pay people, eh, quit your bitching. Wanting good writing for free is an expectation of slave labor.
Don't be a creeper. There have been far too many people whose interest in my writing is lurid, overly personal and unhealthy. It's impacted me, my life and my writing and mostly not in a good way.
Share the blog writing you think is good. Repost it somewhere. It's extremely hard to self promote. Many places have rules against that or which strictly limit it. Even where it is allowed, people act all judgy if you are self promoting. It has more credibility if someone else promotes your work.
Engage constructively. Comments or reader interaction is enormously important for fueling the mind's ability to figure out what to say next on the topic. (Don't use this as an excuse to be mean and then claim "You asked for feedback!")
I have no plans to engage with anyone who decides this comment somehow constitutes an invitation to be attacked, insulted and told how I'm somehow doing something wrong and it's my fault I can't make this work.
It's not my fault. This is just one of those things where the world is currently broken and most writers are making a pittance.
There's more everything than there was before. Despite popular opinion, the rest of the web didn't shrivel up and die when Twitter, Facebook and Youtube got popular.
> You'll check the analytics. Abysmal. Nobody is reading!
> You may write a few more posts, but it's always the same story. A lot of work goes in, but not much comes out.
I never understood this sentiment. Who cares if no one is reading? You blog because you have something to express on the internet, not because you're seeking attention from others. Content creation for the sole purpose of views is incredibly superficial.
It's great to have a community of sorts. I've found that in gemini space, there's a small number of active bloggers that run in the same circles and occasionally make replies on each posts they feel interesting (because almost virtually all pages are static, almost no comment fields).
It's not so much about the attention as it is about the sense of community and belonging.
Of course a lot of blogs were hosted on services like Blogger or Livejournal (which I also had,) and being able to create networks and friend/interest groups definitely increased visibility, but even then most things went unread and uncommented on.
Now there are a thousand good static site generators and free hosting in github page, vercel and netlify, publishing a blog has never been easier, at least for the people dare to call themselves hackers.
However, the mass has moved on to social media to sink their idle time. The question every blogger should ask themselves should be:
Am I writing because I have something to say, or just to sound important to people I don't even care about?
What happened is mobile. People consume the vast majority of digital content via their phone, therefore short form content wins. Tweets and 5 second videos, not lectures. Besides the content being short form, "engagement content" wins. Say something stupid, controversial, rude...you win. You'll get seen. Your reasonable and balanced take....crickets.
The other thing that happened is that the internet got a lot more crowded. Which basically means that everything gets gamed. All eye balls on 0.001% of content and no eye balls on 99.999% of other content creators.
Even in what little remains of blogging, everything is gamed. Have a look at blogging platform Medium. Every single category and topic is spammed with low effort garbage, burying genuine and more serious authors. The genuine reader can no longer find their jewels, and the genuine author considers it all pointless now.
No blogging platform can fix any of the above problems.
So I have started doing so myself and really enjoy the process of putting them together and sharing just because it is the kind of content I like to consume myself.
If any of you have good recommendations on photo-blogs then please let me know. I will sure try some of the search-engines and discovery tools shared in this thread already.
And for shameless self-promotion here is a link to where I will post going forward: https://jesperreiche.com/category/photography/
Never any locking them out because you noticed suspicious activity or anything bogus like that and making them provide personal details. That is abuse of trust and abuse of people
This misses why companies do this: to prevent account hijacking. It sucks to be locked out of your account, but it also sucks for someone to steal it. Various companies have made mistakes here, and some amount of false positives will happen with any detection system, but going all the way to "do not protect accounts" is not going to give a better experience for users on balance.
no one is writing them because there's no platform for them
Why not https://wordpress.com, or one of the many sites that hosts WordPress?
Blogger was shut down by Google years ago
Blogger is still running: https://blogger.com https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blogger_(service)
Nowadays people won't share content simply because they don't trust the internet to share content to it. You have to provide for them to be anonymous and protected forever, which means letting people create accounts easily with just an email or something similar ... They have to be able to blog without thinking someone is going to bring it up and file it away forever and maybe they won't get a job because of it, or their tyrannical government will think they're an agitator and attack them or an adversary will use it for selective characger defamation sometime.
This just isn't something that a blogging platform is going to be able to promise its users. Defending against countries is really hard, especially when your users are doing things that are (wrongly) against the law in those countries.
When content was real content, and love was poured into every keystroke.
I spend the occasional free mental cycle pondering the reasons for the downfall of Internet quality. It's hard to put a finger on any one exact reason.
The tttthis.com article reminds us that blogging platforms which lowered the barrier to entry for Internet publishing helped usher in all sorts new interesting voices and ideas.
Perhaps it was the monetization of blogs which attracted the publishers of low quality. Once gold is found in the hills, more people come exploring.
I honestly cannot tell if this author is wanting that because they are truly passionate about freedom of speech, or if they are feeling personally stifled in expressing their opinions.
Either way, this post feels like an attempt to say they want a blogging platform where they can post whatever they want, whether it be NSFW content, hate speech, or anything else.
Also, SEO trickery completely drowned the honest blogger, not to mention rampant plagiarism from the same SEO farms.
Well it makes it impossible to find any good information about a topic.
I wonder if stackoverflow would be as popular if there weren't 101 content farm articles for every subject you want to search for.
Like many others, I hoarded feeds and consumed articles at random. I enjoyed using StumbleUpon to discover new sites on the Web, it was fun and I miss that vibe.
I used to explore my feeds every single day. I would pick 5-10 articles, print them out at work (oops) and read those during my train commutes. I learned a ton that way.
At some point I hit Feedly's free tier upper limit (800 or 1K feeds?) and stopped caring. Over time, I completely stopped checking the feeds and just let it go. I migrated over to Twitter and started following people rather than blogs; which has interesting benefits compared to just looking at articles through a feed reader: social interaction!
As the flood of content keeps getting worse, I feel like it's harder and harder to find the interesting content, which is drowned by the long tail. I feel like we need better means to curate content collaboratively (a delicious 2.0? :p). Wonder what exists out there that isn't focused on a specific niche.
I understand why Facebook need to do it, but sometimes it limit my expressiveness (I am Italian, and my language has a very huge set of synonyms and nuances of terms).
So I have kept my Blog alive and kicking in the last 20 years and it is my place where:
- I can write what I want and I take my responsibilities
- NO one can ban me from by blog
- Users can comment and I decide the moderation rules. And yes I own my site comments.
- No advertising I do not want. My pages are super fast
- Nice printing capabilities
- I can link other blogs/article I like
- I store images on my own, to avoid to loose external image links.
- I get tracebacks in comments.
On the downside:
- Video bandwidth can be a pain if you do not want advertising on it
- I must pay for it (but for 5 bucks / month it is a good deal for the freedom to say what do you want).
- I got less traction in respect of Facebook.
I can pick any topic/genre and just go find the appropriate subreddit. Sort by "Top (month,year,all time)" and immediately be served with "good content"
Just "searching" for any topic on Google can quickly lead you down a rabbit hole of SEO-focussed-thin-content !
they make up a smaller % of the internet, but that's because the use-base has increased.
Why did I stop? Simply because hardly anyone was reading the blog!
At first, I convinced myself I was writing for myself and an audience was not important. But over time, I came to realise that, although the size of the audience was not important to me, the interest and engagement of readers did matter (especially for a blog with a very niche topic). Hardly any readers commented on my blog posts (which was important to me).
Today, there are lots of corporate blogs writing about their products, and there are single author bloggers trying to establish their "personal brand" - whatever that means! The writing style is often inflated, formal, corporate-sounding: in short, simply bland. What rarely comes across is the unique voice of the writer. And that's a shame.
>But Blogger was shut down by Google years ago,
That was a shock to read, as I last posted to my blog there recently.
However, Blogger isn't dead, I still post stuff there from time to time on my personal blog.
I tried to make a more coherent case for capabilities based security in Capabilities Digest, back in 2015
1 - http://mikewarot.blogspot.com
2 - http://capabilitiesdigest.blogspot.com/
The demise of blogging and the crap that is social media are both due to the same combination of two factors: zero friction to create content and instantaneous, perhaps wordwide feedback on whatever you create. Serious writing just isn't designed to work in this kind of world. You'll be drowned out by emotionally-manipulative crap and then people will build engines to churn out even more crap faster that's even more manipulative. I love the future, but my vision of the future of VR/AR/brain interfaces is something along the lines of getting instantaneously angry or sad at something and wanting to talk about it before you're even consciously aware of what you're angry or sad about. The words will come later and are besides the point. (Which is just like our brains work)
Because of many innovations, printed text is simply too easily-manipulated and dispersed by technology to survive in any fashion similar to what it used to. I don't know what the answers are, but I'm experimenting. Because of social signaling, my blog is ad, pop-up, and tracking-free. I'm mixing in new formats with weekly video called "Nerd Roundup" where I just shoot the shit about tech stuff. I tried twitch and a couple of other new delivery platforms. I do have e-publications, but I do my best to downplay the idea of anybody buying them who are not serious about the topic. In short, my current strategy, like George in that famous episode of Seinfeld , is take whatever most people are doing and invert it. There might be a space there to make some kind of progress. I'm not sure. It's worth trying.
I know that we need more people reasonably talking about various topics and doing so in-depth, and I know we're getting less and less of that.
I spent the better part of a half hour trying to find a blog post a read about a month ago that talked about this very thing. It was one of the reasons why I stopped writing my old blog and moved to one where I effectively ramble on for my own amusement.
I think that this is one of the biggest changes in the web in some time. Content is being produced for search engine placement and social media aggregation. Once someone hits a site and the ad loads the content has done its work. The author of the piece doesn't care if you found it interesting or informative. That is irrelevant. They got your click.
Facebook and Google exacerbate this issue by owning the ad services that these sites use. It is a closed system that just feeds on itself.
Blogs that aren't SEO fluff to get adsense money just don't appear in the search results. Discovery is the real issue. Finding these blogs independently or outside is nigh impossible.
I've been thinking it might be fun to make a GeoCities-esque neighborhood directory site that you could add your blog to help with discovery. But could you (I) change my habits to stumble upon sites in the neighborhoods instead of opening HN/Twitter?
* Starting with university departmental websites
* Starting from records of "shop talk" industry conferences (e.g. Practice & GDC for games, as opposed to "fan service" cons like PAX)
* Looking up the people who worked on some games / products I really like (e.g. found Michael Brough's blog this way)
* Exploring GitHub and similar for interesting repos and looking up their main contributors (an interesting side observation you'll also end up making if you do this is how many of the best projects are essentially done by one person - i.e., 85%+ of the commits are theirs and they are clearly the main/sole driving force. Not really a surprise but cool to see nonetheless)